Effects of Mediterranean Diet and Physical Activity on Pulmonary Function: A Cross-Sectional Analysis in the ILERVAS Project.

Nutrients. 2019;11(2)

Plain language summary

The Mediterranean diet is characterised by an abundant consumption of extra-virgin olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, a moderate consumption of fish and seafood, poultry, fermented dairy products, and red wine with meals, and low intakes of sweetened beverages, red meat and ready meals. The aim of the study was to evaluate the association between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and physical activity on pulmonary function in a large middle-aged population at low-to-moderate cardiovascular risk. The study is an ongoing study that between 2015 and 2017 enrolled a total of 3020 subjects – women aged between 50 to 70 years and men aged between 45 to 65 years – with the presence of at least one cardiovascular risk factor. Results indicate that a low adherence to the Mediterranean diet was linked with impaired breathing patterns and higher prevalence of abnormal lung function when compared to participants with a higher adherence to this dietary pattern. Additionally, vigorous physical activity was accompanied by better results in lung function than that observed in inactive subjects. The study provides initial clinical evidence about the independent and deleterious effect of both low adherence to the Mediterranean diet and low physical activity practice on lung function in participants without known pulmonary disease.


undefined: A few studies showed that both adherence to Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) and physical activity practice have a positive impact on pulmonary function in subjects with lung disease. These associations are not well studied in subjects free from lung disease. In a cross-sectional study conducted in 3020 middle-aged subjects free of lung disease, adherence to the MedDiet using the Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener, and physical activity practice using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire short form were recorded. Respiratory function was assessed using forced spirometry and the results were evaluated according to the Global initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. Logistic regression models were used to analyze the associations between adherence to the MedDiet and physical activity practice with the presence of ventilatory defects. Participants with a high adherence to MedDiet, in comparison to those with low adherence, had both higher forced vital capacity (FVC; 100 (87⁻109) vs. 94 (82⁻105) % of predicted, = 0.003) and forced expired volume in the first second (FEV1; 100 (89⁻112) vs. 93 (80⁻107) % of predicted, < 0.001). According to their degree of physical activity, those subjects with a high adherence also had both higher FVC (100 (88⁻107) vs. 94 (83⁻105) % of predicted, = 0.027) and FEV1 (100 (89⁻110) vs. 95 (84⁻108) % of predicted, = 0.047) in comparison with those with low adherence. The multivariable logistic regression models showed a significant and independent association between both low adherence to MedDiet and low physical activity practice, and the presence of altered pulmonary patterns, with differences between men and women. However, no joint effect between adherence to MedDiet and physical activity practice on respiratory function values was observed. Low adherence to MedDiet and low physical activity practice were independently associated with pulmonary impairment. Therefore, the lung mechanics seem to benefit from heart-healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Immune and inflammation
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients ; Physical exercise
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Exercise and movement
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood ; Breath

Methodological quality

Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article